April 9, 2021 | 7:48pm | Updated April 9, 2021 | 7:49pm
New York City basketball is coming back. Five of the area’s top AAU programs are working together to stage a tournament this weekend to give kids an opportunity to shake off the COVID-19 rust and get back in front of college coaches, virtually of course.
The New York Rens have organized the New York City Invitational, a two-day tournament that will include 17U, 16U and 15U teams from the PSA Cardinals, New York Jayhawks, Riverside Hawks, Rens and New York Gauchos. Games will be held Saturday and Sunday, and again from April 24-25. It will include a number of top prospects, such as five-star guard Zion Cruz, Kansas commit Kyle Cuffe Jr., and Seton Hall pledge Jaquan Harris, among many others.
“We got five of the horses in New York that are all coming together, and it’s awesome,” Rens director Andy Borman said. “We’re going to live-stream it. That way, college coaches and fans and everyone that can’t be in the gym can watch it. It’s going to be real high quality.”
No fans will be allowed, which is why the location of the tournament is being withheld. Each player will be able to have two parents in attendance for his game and there will be media on hand. All will be expected to wear masks and socially distance from others. The games will be streamed live by Synergy Grassroots, providing access for fans and college coaches, and compile stats.
Our Savior Lutheran was the lone New York City school to have a season, since it is a private independent institution and played the majority of its games in the Grind Session bubbles in Arizona and Kentucky. Otherwise, New York kids, unless they attended high school in Westchester County, Long Island or elsewhere, didn’t have a season of any kind.
This, however, is a start.
The NCAA has extended its dead period through May 31, meaning college coaches are unable to attend events. It is uncertain what kind of AAU season there will be, although Borman is hopeful the Peach Jam tournament will be held in July. For now, this is the next best thing.
“Last year with COVID, we wanted to do something like this. You just couldn’t actually do it,” Borman said. “[We want] to try to give kids something normal in a world that’s not very normal right now. Kids want to play, kids are ready to play, they need to play.”
They will get a chance this weekend.